6729 Lake Rd,
Windsor, WI 53598

Dental Fillings

Amalgam & Composite Dental Fillings

Amalgam dental fillings have been used to fill cavities caused by tooth decay since the 1800s. A mixture of mercury with at least one other metal is used to provide restorative benefits to your teeth. These silver-colored fillings are one of the most common filling materials.

Composite fillings were invented in the 1960s. Created from a mixture of plastic-based materials, they can be easily colored to look like natural teeth. While we often recommend amalgam, certain circumstances require composite fillings. 

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Benefits of a Dental Amalgam Filling

  • Affordability - Amalgam fillings are easy for dentists to work with and last 10-12 years, making them affordable for patients.
  • Strength - They are tough enough to withstand the force of molar teeth during chewing.
  • Durability - The longevity of silver amalgam makes it the best choice for large cavities or cavities in your back teeth.
  • Bacteriostatic effects - They prevent the growth of bacteria.

Benefits of Dental Composite filling

  • Beauty and Natural Shade - Composite fillings mimic the tooth's natural shade and are almost invisible to the naked eye.
  • Less natural tooth structure has to be removed - In smaller restorations, composite is the best choice because less sound tooth structure removal is required to complete the process. 

 What to Expect from a Cavity Filling Procedure

  1. Your dentist will apply a numbing gel to your gums. A local anesthetic may be injected into the gum for more numbing.
  2. With a drill or other special tool, your dentist removes decay from around your tooth.
  3. The hole is then filled with amalgam or composite material. 
  4. Composite fillings require the dentist to harden the material with a special light.
  5. The filling is polished and adjusted so biting feels natural. 
Dental fillings for cavities in Windsor, WI

Why is amalgam used?

  • Ease of use - Amalgam is relatively easy to use and manipulate during placement. It remains soft for a short time, so it can be packed to fill any irregular volume before forming a hard compound.
  • Longevity - On average, most amalgam restorations last 10 to 12 years, whereas resin-based composites often wear out in half of that time. Note: This difference is decreasing with recent improvements in composite material science.

Why is composite used?

  • Bonds to the natural tooth structure - Composite fillings physically bond to your natural tooth, making it highly durable as well as visually appealing.
  • Natural look - While more expensive than amalgam fillings, many patients still choose composite due to the natural appeal of the final restoration.
Dental amalgam vs composite resin fillings

Dental Amalgam vs. Composite Resin

If you need a dental filling, you’re likely considering an amalgam or composite/resin filling. There are some circumstances in which composite (white fillings) serve a better purpose than amalgam, including:

  • to blend naturally with your natural tooth enamel
  • less enamel removal and tooth preparation, allowing for more maintenance of the natural tooth structure

An amalgam filling would require removing more sound tooth structure, while a composite filling would include only small occlusal restorations. For this reason, composite would be the recommended restorative material.

Composite resins, or tooth-colored fillings, provide good durability and resistance to fracture in small- to mid-size fillings from moderate pressure and stress of chewing. Composite restorations can be used on either front or back teeth. They cost more than amalgam and occasionally are not covered by some dental benefit plans. Also, no dental filling lasts forever. Some studies show that composite fillings can be less durable and need to be replaced more often than amalgam fillings with a lifespan of 5 to 7 years.

It generally takes longer to place a composite filling than it does for a metal filling. That’s because composite fillings require the tooth to be kept clean and dry while the cavity is being filled. Tooth-colored fillings are now used more often than amalgam or gold fillings, probably due to cosmetics. In a society focused on a white, bright smile, people tend to want fillings that blend with the natural color of their teeth. Ultimately, the best dental filling is no dental filling. Prevention is the best medicine. You can dramatically decrease your risk of cavities and other dental diseases simply by:

  • Brushing twice a day with fluoride toothpaste
  • Flossing daily
  • Eating a balanced diet
  • Visiting the dentist regularly

Why you may need a filling? 

Normally you'll need a filling if your tooth is decayed, broken, chipped or if you need to replace an older, worn filling. Some other signs you might consider getting a filling include: 

  • Tooth sensitivity while ingesting hot or cold foods and drinks
  • A visible hole in your tooth 
  • A toothache 
  • Difficulty flossing (shredding the thread or thread stuck between teeth)

Are dental amalgam fillings safe?

The American Dental Association Council on Scientific Affairs has concluded both amalgam and composite materials are considered safe and effective for tooth restoration. The FDA has reviewed the best available scientific evidence and found no association between dental amalgam use and adverse health effects in the general population. Accordingly, the FDA recommends that non-mercury restorations (fillings) such as composite resins and glass ionomer cement be used, when possible and appropriate, in people who may be at higher risk for adverse health effects from mercury exposure.

Gold Fillings vs Composite and Amalgam

Due to the high cost of gold fillings and the natural appearance of a composite restoration, gold fillings are not often seen anymore. However, you can still get them. The cost of gold fillings will generally be more than other types of fillings, but they're meant to last a very long time. As with any other filling, price will also depend on extent of tooth decay, placement and other complications.

Schedule your filling appointment with Windsor Family Dental today. We take care of patients throughout Dane County including Madison, Sun Prairie, and DeForest. 

Our restorative treatments include:

Fillings FAQs


How long do dental fillings last?

Many dental fillings can last around 10 years and some even longer. Factors that will affect the lifespan of your filling include your eating habits, dental hygiene, tooth decay around the filling, and what material the filling is made from. Amalgam fillings last the longest at 15 years while composite fillings only last about 7. Though composite fillings may not last as long, they're usually chosen for their natural, tooth-like appearance.

How many fillings can one tooth have?

Each tooth has 5 different surfaces and it is possible to have multiple areas of concern on a single tooth. If a filling covers 3 or more surfaces of a tooth, it may be necessary to replace the filling with an inlay, onlay, or dental crown. These restorations provide more strength to the tooth and help prevent the tooth from breaking and becoming unrestorable. 

Which dental filling is best?

Resin-based composite and amalgam are the two most common materials used to restore teeth. Resin fillings come in many different shades which are closely matched to your existing tooth color and amalgam fillings are silver. Your dental professional will determine which material would be best suited for your case. Composite material is bonded directly to the tooth structure, it adds extra strength and support. Silver amalgam fillings aren't the most aesthetic option, but they are very strong and easier to place in more complicated cases. 

Are fillings painful?

Dental fillings should not be painful. Your dentist will numb the area before the procedure begins with a local anesthetic. Depending on the severity of your cavity, you may feel a bit of discomfort as the local anesthetic wears off. If you're really anxious about the procedure, you can talk to your dentist about other sedation methods.

Can you eat after a filling?

You can drink immediately after a resin composite filling is placed as the material sets immediately but, be careful chewing while numb and perhaps wait to eat until the anesthetic wears off to avoid biting your lip or tongue. Amalgam filling material takes approximately 24 hours to set and your dentists will typically recommend a soft diet for at least 24 hours.

What not to do after having a filling?

Dentists recommend avoiding hard, chewy or sticky food for up to two weeks while your filling sets in. You'll also want to avoid biting too hard or grinding your teeth. You should still brush and floss your teeth daily.


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See why people have been coming back to us for over 45 years

Christa P.

Dr. Endicott and his team are wonderful! They go above and beyond to care for their patients with clear explanations and expertise, all while being thoughtful, professional, and personable. I can't imagine a more positive dental experience, no matter how complicated the issue. Thank you Dr. Endicott, Dana, Kristen, Kristi, Sue.

Alyssa S

I’ve been going to Windsor Family Dental since i was a kid. I have never had a bad experience there. They always make me feel so welcomed and like i’m a part of their family :) Every person that works there is so kind, patient, and understanding. I never dread going to the dentist, i actually look forward to it! The days i go to Windsor Family Dental are seriously the best days of the year! I am so thankful for them and all of the great experiences i’ve had there.

Nick M.

Been here a year and they've been nothing less than exceptional every time. Schedule changes, care, conversation. Feel like I've known them my whole life every time kids or I go.

Thank you guys so much.

Windsor Family Dental
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THIS IS NOT DENTAL INSURANCE. Cannot be combined with other insurance or discount plans. Membership plan is specific to one person and cannot be transferred. Covered services not used within the specified time period will not be carried over or transferred. Services will be provided at this location only. Membership plan will auto-renew each year on the renewal date. If a patient presents with periodontal infection, a personalized treatment plan will be presented at an additional cost. The perio plan is strictly for preventive maintenance care.